Yellowstone in Transition: An Analysis of the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Fire Regimes and Post Fire Regeneration of Forested Areas

Authors: Annalise Hauser*, Gettysburg College, Rud Platt, Gettysburg College, Environmental Studies
Topics: Earth Science, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Remote Sensing
Keywords: Yellowstone, wildfires, pine, climate, gis, Google Earth Engine
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In response to climate change, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) is expected to undergo changes in fire regimes due to rising temperatures and more frequent and severe drought periods. The purpose of this study was to perform a long term remote sensing analysis of the changes in fire characteristics and post-fire regeneration in the GYE. The four fire characteristics were frequency, area, homogeneity, and intensity. We used both the Monitoring Trending in Burn Severity (MTBS) and the Fire History Polygons for Northern Rockies datasets to determine the changes in the fire characteristics over time. To examine the trends in post-fire recovery we performed a Simple Linear Trend (SLT) analysis and calculated a Scaled Recovery Metric (SRM) for each fire in Google Earth Engine using Landsat imagery for a 5-year and a 10-year recovery period. Subsequently, we performed statistical analyses correlating these metrics to the characteristics calculated in the first part of the analysis. This was also compared to average maximum daily temperature, minimum daily temperature, precipitation, forest coverage, elevation, and slope for each fire. We found that there has not been a year without a fire since 1998. We found statistically significant positive correlations between maximum daily temperature and the SLT and SRM for both recovery periods.

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